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laughing lioness

College/ $ vent

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As one option, you go to one of "The Colleges That Change Lives" for undergrad and then attend MIT or a similar school for free for grad school. I did it, as did many of my college classmates. And I know my alma mater has at least two graduate students at MIT right now.

That is the path these students are taking. However, they miss out on the undergrad math theory, interesting physics courses etc that their less able classmates have the privilege of struggling thru.

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Yes, we're there too.  I know that DS scored better than any of the kids in local public high schools on the SAT because there were no National Merit kids this year at any level, and he is a Commended Scholar.

 

We did last minute applications to several selective schools including a well-known, in-state school, but I wasn't optimistic.  The reality is that there just isn't a lot of merit aid at the schools we were considering.  They were very upfront with that.  And the offered merit aid was indeed minimal.

 

As a family, we can't swing what some of our friends are, and we had several long conversations about student loans and want to avoid that as long as possible.

 

Thankfully we have an excellent local community college locally and a larger one further away within the same system with a large online program. Classes are small (never more than 25), and they have an excellent honors program.  Between those two, we can do what we want and then transfer to a 4-year within commuting distance, although another option will be to rent a room from the parents of a friend who live close by.  DS got one of their top three merit scholarships which covers 50% of the tuition.  He got a part-time job that starts in August that will pay for books and enable him to save for a car.

 

In the long run, I know that mine will come out fine.  My parents pulled my college money when I was away at a private school, and I decided to major in a field that they weren't strong in anyway.  So I went to a top-rated state school on a small merit scholarship and my own earnings.  And among my peers from the Ivies, Cal Tech, and MIT, I made the same salary if not more in some cases.  In the fifteen years that I worked before kids, having degrees from state schools never held me back.

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I think any discussion that focuses on what people with lower incomes receive in need based aid vs. what affluent families don't receive in need based aid sort of misses the point.  3/4+ of students receive financial aid and quite often people who expect to get no assistance get more than they would expect at larger, more expensive schools.  

 

That said the real problem is that college costs too much.  The full sticker price of college is ridiculously, insanely, unbelievably more expensive than it was and the cost increases continue to far outpace inflation.  What are we getting for these higher prices?  Not that much.  The whole way college is funded and paid for in this country needs to change.  

 

I fully expect that most all of the money I earn when my sons are in college will go to the college bursar's office, which is why we live off of my husband's job.  As my income increases (I work very PT and am adding more work a little at a time), I don't add that mentally to what we can afford to spend each month.   

 

We are not affluent. At all. Ds has received merit scholarships, leaving him with over 20K in tuition a year afterwards. It's not enough, unless he wants a B.S. with over 60K debt. Not a good option, from where any of us sit. 

 

The job I have goes to assist kids, but is not enough to cover 20K in debt a year. We've lived off of dh's job for years and have lived well below any line of affluence as a result.

 

The real problem IS that college costs too much. Exactly.

 

While we've had some stability, we've had times of real financial crisis- dh is self-employed and that has come with costs. We pay for all of our benefits, retirement (gone due to health crisis), sick and vacation days mean no income, all dental, vision, etc is out of pocket. 

 

So, here's what triggered this- I call my alma mater- nice Christian college in the midwest- almost 40K a year. Merit $ is 11K. Rest is based on need. We won't get any. Friend from college, pastors family, probably never made over 30K, has retirement, benefits, braces for kids, vacation in Bahamas (yes, I'm serious), kid goes for free. Just seems more than a bit skewed imho. 

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We are not affluent. At all. Ds has received merit scholarships, leaving him with over 20K in tuition a year afterwards. It's not enough, unless he wants a B.S. with over 60K debt. Not a good option, from where any of us sit. 

 

The job I have goes to assist kids, but is not enough to cover 20K in debt a year. We've lived off of dh's job for years and have lived well below any line of affluence as a result.

 

The real problem IS that college costs too much. Exactly. 

 

Same level of potential debt here, and a strong possibility of even less parental support.  DH is eligible to retire this year and may be forced into that at any time.  I am working, but I make what a beginning teacher does, which isn't going to support the family on top of his retirement plus significant college bills.  For various reasons, I can't change what I do at this point.

 

When I was putting myself through, I could work over the summer with lots of overtime and then in a staff position with odd jobs and make it.  That's just not possible for most kids.  We know of a few kids with STEM majors who were able to do it in their last two years because of co-op jobs and research assistant work during the school year, but they are the exception.

 

Both of mine will likely need to take on some debt in graduate school, and they don't want that compounded by undergraduate debt.

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One path I have seen the middle class tech interested math brains here who dont qualify for DOD scholarships/ROTC/NatlGuard take is to go to the name school that is an academic match, use the business mentoring option, and develop a product. That seems to get some outside scholarship money to pay for a year. Drop out and grow company.

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Dd is going to a private Christian college in August which has close to 5000 students. She earned a full tuition scholarship just based on her ACT score. The school offers it to anyone who scores high enough. Dh is a school teacher, and we don't make much money. Dd only got $3300 in pell grants, so if she hadn't earned the academic scholarship she wouldn't be going. Are these kids you see going also taking on a lot of debt? 

 

 

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:crying: :grouphug: :grouphug:

 

I would agree that the cost of college is too high relatively speaking, and I am going to go out on a limb and say that perhaps expectations with regards to college educations have also become too high. I think that we have gone from the idea 30 years ago of "I would like to give my child a college education," to now with the goal of "I'd like to give my child the perfect college experience."  They are two different things. There seems to be a greater sense of entitlement to a pricey education even for lackluster students.

 

There is a big difference between aid for college as a means out of poverty and aid for college to attend the "right" school. I am not saying this right. If we continue to look for the "experience" versus the "education," the Italian leather lecture hall seats and private bathrooms in dorm rooms versus rather Spartan living conditions and lecture halls, with professors that are paid to teach, then the price tag will be high. Somehow, what college should be and should mean has become skewed.

 

 

 

I'd have to agree with this.  It's easy to fall into this attitude;  it's even the one most high school counselors push.  We are in a similar position as the OP, and it is frustrating!  But I'm more upset about the overall cost of college, period.  It just seems crazy.  We decided to not have the attitude of needing the "perfect college experience."  Honestly, I think almost any school will do to get the degree in many fields.  In more specialized fields, it's the graduate school where you need to be far more picky. 

 

We gave our children a lot of varied and unique experiences.  They don't need the "perfect college experience" on top of that.  We're just doing it as inexpensively as we can.  None of our kids lived in the dorm for more than one year.  (Most lived there for only one semester, or not at all.)  For example, they lived with aunts and uncles who lived nearby, or a grandparent, and one lived in a German boarding house which was half the price as the dorm (in NYC).  They tried to pass out of as many classes as they could with AP and other tests the colleges they attended offered.  One daughter has done her entire university experience out of the country where a private university is $5,000/year.  Another did community college for two years.  Two happened to get married young so they actually qualified for grants.

 

So, not a single one will have had the perfect, traditional college experience.  There are of course advantages and disadvantages to that, as there is with almost anything.  But it was still their own, unique experience.  And they will have obtained their degree.

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mom31257,

 

Did your daughter's ACT give her full tuition and full room and board?  If so, would you be willing to share the name of the college?  Dd is looking at a local Christian college.  She has earned the max merit scholarship for academics and may be able to earn some scholarship through music auditions but will still owe quite a bit for room and board.  We are trying to find Christian unis that give full tuition, room and board for a strong ACT.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

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What gets me is that many people don't seem to understand this. The assumption is that smart kid means "you don't need to worry about college". Every time the conversation comes up, I get that statement. But I've run the calculators. I need to worry. Because there are far fewer full-ride scholarships out there than people seem to think, ...

 

I think part of the perception problem has to do with the fact that some families exaggerate how much money their kids are actually receiving, which leads others to think that there are more full-ride scholarships out there than there actually are.

 

Some schools that offer tuition discounts based solely on test scores have outrageous charges for room and board.  There is no way a college in the Midwest should have room and board costs in the same ballpark as colleges on the East Coast.

 

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That is the path these students are taking. However, they miss out on the undergrad math theory, interesting physics courses etc that their less able classmates have the privilege of struggling thru.

I think there are pros and cons to almost any college choice. I guess if only MIT will do and you can't afford it, you're bound to be disappointed. But if they didn't even apply, how do they know they would have been accepted? Most state schools allow undergrads to take graduate level courses and many smaller schools offer one-on-one independent study options. And many undergrads do summer research at other colleges.

 

 

And I'm not sure I follow what you mean by their less able classmates having the privilege of struggling through courses they do not. Do you mean lower income students who actually applied, got accepted, and we're given the financial aid to attend MIT or a similar school?

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That is the path these students are taking. However, they miss out on the undergrad math theory, interesting physics courses etc that their less able classmates have the privilege of struggling thru.

Actually, I think many liberal arts schools can do great foundational math and physics. What the liberal arts students miss is access to the latest from the research community, since their school is more focused on teaching. Some of that can be mitigated by the Internet, but at places like MIT, the big name researchers may be right down the hall.

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Yes, snowbeltmom, whether it is exaggeration or not, there is a big difference between full-ride and magic carpet ride.  We know many students working multiple jobs to pay room and board, and others getting into significant debt to live on campus.  Since dd doesn't like either path, she is going into the college app process with expectations that have changed/lowered. 

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 I find your attitude about students who do get great aid packages to be rather galling honestly.

I'm not sure what exactly you find galling.

 

Just to be clear- my frustration has to do with the COST of education and how out of reach much of higher ed has become. 

Dh acutally teaches college courses on-line. His take- away is that the quality is pretty abysmal. He's had students in GRAD classes who have NEVER written an APA style paper and offended that he requires it. 

And, while our kids could get reduced tuition from that institution, it's still thousands a year. As in, they'd grad with 10's of thousands of dollars worth of debt, even with reduced tuition.

 

I do NOT begrudge need based scholarships to those who need them, or those with specialized abilities. But what exactly is need?

I'm frustrated for MY kid (s), specifically the 20 yr. old.

 

Our state schools just changed a year ago so that we now have DE. With that, gen ed courses, which used to be 1/2 price at the State Schools went up full price. So, he missed out on DE, he is now paying full price for every class. 

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I am seeing the expectations of what a university should be rise in the UK.  The university that I know best is trying to appeal to overseas (particularly American) students and it is improving its facilities.  These are not core facilities (lecture halls, labs, etc.) but taking on a new theatre (the university does not have drama or music degrees, so this is for extra-curricular use), doubling the size of the sports centre, demolishing and rebuilding the perfectly adequate halls of residence to provide more private rooms.

 

Right now, it's the overseas students footing the bill, but I can't see how the pressure on the government to raise tuition for domestic students will be resisted for long.

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Actually, I think many liberal arts schools can do great foundational math and physics. What the liberal arts students miss is access to the latest from the research community, since their school is more focused on teaching. Some of that can be mitigated by the Internet, but at places like MIT, the big name researchers may be right down the hall.

While I agree that research opportunities and exposure are not as great at LACs, there are many programs that allow undergrads from one college to do research at another college during the summer. Also, most colleges bring in speakers from other colleges and many take students to research conferences. And being surrounded by famous researchers doesn't necessarily mean a student has access to them. When I did my grad work at a well-known research university, those in my program from similar schools were pleasantly surprised by their new found access to professors due to their status as grad students. While those of us from LACs were completely used to it.

 

I'm definitely not dismissing the opportunities a place like MIT offers to undergrads, but there can also be advantages, including financial ones, to choosing a different path for undergrad and then attending a school like MIT for grad school.

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And I'm not sure I follow what you mean by their less able classmates having the privilege of struggling through courses they do not. Do you mean lower income students who actually applied, got accepted, and we're given the financial aid to attend MIT or a similar school?

No, higher income students who are full pay or lower income who received nonmerit money, who had hand held by tutor throughout high school, can barely pass CC calc, vs middle class math brains who wish to go into engineering rather than LAC math or science. Basically a nonhonors caliber student vs one who is ..but the guy who has the money gets the opportunity at the challenging coursework, while the middle class guy gets another round of easy classes at the CC.

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I went to a college.  I went to a college that was a very poor academic match.  I graduated with very little debt, have a few good memories, a few rotten memories and not many friends from my days in school.  I also majored in something that was easy to AP/CLEP most of the gen-ed requirements.  While "college experience" isn't high on our list of "must haves" -- I would prefer my son have a better experience than I did.  I graduated 25 years ago (gasp), and I'm still a little bitter.

 

My son has been looking at engineering degrees -- even more specifically, dual degrees in engineering and communications.  These degrees are even more difficult to come by.  Some of the schools will accept a limited number of CLEP/AP on the communications end, but virtually nothing on the engineering end.  If we are lucky, we'll still be here in Italy when DS leaves, so our income will be lower -- but so will our expenses.  If we return at the end of his Junior year to VA Beach, our income will be a bit higher), but our expenses significantly higher.  He's stuck.

 

I know I could send him to a second or third tier college and push him through a comm's program fast and cheap -- but you can't get into an engineering/business masters program on that.  The engineering has to be the focus of any undergrad program. Pushing through a STEM program fast and cheap has been a huge sticking point.  We have identified a good program at ASU (it would be a safety), but the incidental costs and living arrangements leave much to be desired.  If he can get good money at GW, he could (at minimum) be with my parents and probably ride into/home from DC (still NOT ideal...but at least it could be arranged).  UPenn and Stanford have the programs he's really interested in, and would probably be the best academic fit for his program area -- but getting into those schools is going to be difficult (although my dad graduated from Stanford).

 

College costs way too much -- and following MY path through college would leave him without much on the academic end to get into a good school (work really hard at a PT job, save every penny, take box-checking coursework that isn't really interesting or challenging, and then work close to FT while in school, while overloading on coursework to graduate in 3 years with a double major).

 

We're just priced out -- and with 5 other kids, we can't afford much at all.  I don't want him to go into significant debt (we have a reasonable amount in mind, that we could help pay off), but it is very frustrating.  

 

My dh's parents and my parents NEVER worried about how we'd pay for college (and not because they had saved money for us).  They also weren't worried about which college we wanted to attend (dh...mine limited my choices)  And yet, this whole process keeps me up some nights!  UGH.

 

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Lisa,is your dh in the military? If not, VA will most likely consider him an OOS. He might not have any IS options.

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Lisa,is your dh in the military? If not, VA will most likely consider him an OOS. He might not have any IS options.

No. We're civilian. Despite the fact we own a house in VA, that we vote in VA, and pay VA state taxes, yeah...not guaranteed to be considered in state for college. Which is why we aren't really looking in state.

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I'd have to agree with this.  It's easy to fall into this attitude;  it's even the one most high school counselors push.  We are in a similar position as the OP, and it is frustrating!  But I'm more upset about the overall cost of college, period.  It just seems crazy.  We decided to not have the attitude of needing the "perfect college experience."  Honestly, I think almost any school will do to get the degree in many fields.  In more specialized fields, it's the graduate school where you need to be far more picky. 

 

We gave our children a lot of varied and unique experiences.  They don't need the "perfect college experience" on top of that.  We're just doing it as inexpensively as we can.  None of our kids lived in the dorm for more than one year.  (Most lived there for only one semester, or not at all.)  For example, they lived with aunts and uncles who lived nearby, or a grandparent, and one lived in a German boarding house which was half the price as the dorm (in NYC).  They tried to pass out of as many classes as they could with AP and other tests the colleges they attended offered.  One daughter has done her entire university experience out of the country where a private university is $5,000/year.  Another did community college for two years.  Two happened to get married young so they actually qualified for grants.

 

So, not a single one will have had the perfect, traditional college experience.  There are of course advantages and disadvantages to that, as there is with almost anything.  But it was still their own, unique experience.  And they will have obtained their degree.

 

I agree, and what's more, I am not sure it is a good thing that we are so convinced that so many smart kids should have a college experience at all.  There seems to be this idea that someone smart or even brilliant who does not go to university is somehow wasted.  There is something very classist in the background of that kind of thinking. 

 

There has been a change in thinking about this that I think has created a very unhealthy system.  Many career paths depend on having bright people enter them, including self-employment, the military, trades, agriculture.  I suspect a healthy economy may depend upon it.  And the current system has ultimately been a disaster for the real purpose of the university as an institution and may yet destroy it.  Few graduates are even really very educated.

 

I think that perhaps this is all part of the unraveling of an unstable system. 

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I think where I get frustrated is in the inequity of some situations.

 

A student who has taken hard classes at a challenging high school, who has done academic summer programs for college credit, who has been a four year athlete doesn't get accepted to a particular school because it has goals based on ethnicity.  

 

A student who has worked hard in high school falls in the doughnut hole of not having enough family money to pay full price but also not having enough need to get aid.  This is especially galling when either the full price student or the tuition subsidized student is someone who hasn't taken the same level of courses.

 

On the other hand there is also frustration when a student is highly qualified, but it turned down because they would need aid in order to attend.  

 

But I also get frustrated all to heck with schools that tell their students that 1000 CR+M on the SAT is as high as they need to aspire.  With schools that will not offer AP courses to interested students (one school I worked with in VA cancelled their AP Chem because only 16 students signed up.  There was no honors chem option or advanced chem to take instead. In my day 16 students in a high school ready for college level chem would have been grounds for jubilation and figuring out how to make it work.)  I get frustrated with schools that don't prepare students for the higher level work in later years because they don't build proper foundations in earlier grades.  I get frustrated with schools that blow smoke up students by telling them they are shoe ins for schools when they aren't close to being qualified.  And also with schools that tell students not to bother trying.  

 

The above is why I will spend 16 hours of a weekend standing at a table on a hot tarmac at an air show to talk to students about the Naval Academy.  I want to talk to the 13-15 year old who is still making choices about what they will take in school and how hard they will work in those classes.  I talk to them about classes to take, summer school for course recovery or to get ahead a semester, summer seminar programs, Khan Academy, PSAT dates, cool study sites I've found and books I think they might like.  

 

 

 

[On a related note, there was an Australian academic recently who commented that he had found that kids whose parents read to them did better in school.  He was somewhat distressed at the unfair advantage this represented and cautioned parents to consider this when they read bedtime stories.  I would think that this is a reason for other parents to start reading to their kids, not a grounds to stop giving your kid this advantage. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/new-family-values/6437058 ]

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The above is why I will spend 16 hours of a weekend standing at a table on a hot tarmac at an air show to talk to students about the Naval Academy. I want to talk to the 13-15 year old who is still making choices about what they will take in school and how hard they will work in those classes. I talk to them about classes to take, summer school for course recovery or to get ahead a semester, summer seminar programs, Khan Academy, PSAT dates, cool study sites I've found and books I think they might like.

 

 

I think my son gave up on USNA this year. I know it was only a STEM camp, and not the school, but it was the only one remotely close to affordable. Being civilians overseas, most of the special programs for teens are not available to us. When his sister didn't get in, either, I think he took it as a sign that it was going to be a waste of time even trying. We aren't necessarily considered VA residents for VA schools, but we are considered VA for the service academies. I was hoping at least Ponygirl had a shot, because honestly, she needs to SEE the Academy in action to develop a good sense of how she'd really fit in there. The camp would have been that kind of opportunity for her. LEGO Maniac, however, can easily see that USNA would be a great fit for so many reasons.

 

But LEGO Maniac is now hyper focused on his Eagle project, so not going to STEM camp won't be the end of the world. I am extremely confident that he will be one of the few to raise the funds, get the support, and possibly finish early. He truly came up with a great project.

 

It's just hard to have him so disappointed re: USNA. I don't think he will bother to apply next year. I'm hoping that he will rebound in time to apply for summer session, though.

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I am getting really scared!  DD is in 10th this year, going into 11th next year, so I am just starting to read some of the college threads... This is so complicated!  We are not going to qualify for any need based aid.  We do "okay", but not enough to pay the kind of numbers I'm seeing around. DD is amenable to going the 2:2 route, and going to a state college.  But one of the state colleges she likes only gives really good scholarships to freshmen, and if she does 2:2 she won't qualify for a lot of those.  

 

So when it comes time, do we apply to some of these state colleges "just to see what happens"?  She hasn't tested ACT /SAT yet, but if it correllates to school performance at all, I would guess she might be middle upper end.  Not "outstanding" but probably "above average".  Is that even worth trying to apply for?  Do just "above average" ever get scholarships when you are not need based?

 

I'm so confused...  :willy_nilly:

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I think my son gave up on USNA this year. I know it was only a STEM camp, and not the school, but it was the only one remotely close to affordable. Being civilians overseas, most of the special programs for teens are not available to us. When his sister didn't get in, either, I think he took it as a sign that it was going to be a waste of time even trying. We aren't necessarily considered VA residents for VA schools, but we are considered VA for the service academies. I was hoping at least Ponygirl had a shot, because honestly, she needs to SEE the Academy in action to develop a good sense of how she'd really fit in there. The camp would have been that kind of opportunity for her. LEGO Maniac, however, can easily see that USNA would be a great fit for so many reasons.

 

But LEGO Maniac is now hyper focused on his Eagle project, so not going to STEM camp won't be the end of the world. I am extremely confident that he will be one of the few to raise the funds, get the support, and possibly finish early. He truly came up with a great project.

 

It's just hard to have him so disappointed re: USNA. I don't think he will bother to apply next year. I'm hoping that he will rebound in time to apply for summer session, though.

 

Please convey to your kids that being turned down to STEM is not an indication that they aren't qualified candidates for either summer seminar or USNA.  STEM and NASS have purposes that overlap but are not 100% aligned with finding the most qualified students for USNA.  There are also goals of encouraging applications from districts that don't typically have strong applicants, encouraging students to continue in STEM studies and encouraging students from underrepresented categories to consider the Navy and USNA.  For both camps there is also a tendency to favor students who don't live near a fleet concentration or near enough to USNA come to other events.

 

The STEM camp is a great deal.  It is far less expensive than other similar programs.  But that means that many students apply.  I think the last numbers I saw had several thousand students applying for a few hundred spots.  That is really competitive.  There are any number of reasons why a student might not be selected.  And it's possible that not one of those reasons are because USNA thinks that they wouldn't be a good midshipman.

 

We've had our own turn down letters from USNA.  I know what it's like to be excited about the prospect and then get a form letter saying no.  It is also hard to have to wait so long to find out what the status is.  The only thing I can say is not to despair.  

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While I agree that research opportunities and exposure are not as great at LACs, there are many programs that allow undergrads from one college to do research at another college during the summer. Also, most colleges bring in speakers from other colleges and many take students to research conferences. And being surrounded by famous researchers doesn't necessarily mean a student has access to them. When I did my grad work at a well-known research university, those in my program from similar schools were pleasantly surprised by their new found access to professors due to their status as grad students. While those of us from LACs were completely used to it.

 

I'm definitely not dismissing the opportunities a place like MIT offers to undergrads, but there can also be advantages, including financial ones, to choosing a different path for undergrad and then attending a school like MIT for grad school.

 

Having two kids at LACs (one of those Christian) and one at a private research U I can say there are HUGE differences between them.

 

The LACs focus on teaching and have some (limited) research going on, so a student should be certain they are interested in exactly what that research is, then hope they can participate.  Some slots are open to anyone interested.  Others aren't.  Classes are small.  Tests revolve a bit on what was taught in class.

 

The research U assumes students coming in have a higher level of knowledge already.  If not, the student needs to catch up fairly quickly while still learning new things. There have been times when what's been taught in class is "too new for any textbook," esp if dealing with what the prof (or dept) is researching.  Those classes are often larger, but they have small recitations.  It's been easy for my kiddo to get to know all of his professors, but he has to make the effort to do so (and he does).  What is being researched is at a far higher/deeper level (for the most part) and there are plentiful options for students to get involved.  They may not get their first choice right away due to competition, but if they prove themselves in someone's lab, they get higher dibs as others graduate and move on.

 

Tests have a dual purpose.  Part of it (maybe earning one up to a B) is knowledge, but that knowledge is often deeper than the same course at my LAC kiddos colleges.  The other part is out of the box thinking.  On several tests middle son has said there have been questions that have no answers as they are still theoretical or in current research, but the prof wants to know how a student thinks about them and they get credit if their thought process has merit.  Those questions were not discussed in class.  One needs to know concepts and have a researcher's mind.

 

It is not at all difficult to see the differences between the two places (well, not counting English or History majors as I've no idea how those are handled).  A student ought to visit each type of school to see which type feels like it fits them.  Some kids thrive on research and an LAC would be limiting.  Other kids have no interest in research and would be overwhelmed at a research school.  My three guys all chose appropriately for them.

 

For two of my three boys, going to a private school has been less costly than attending our in state schools (PA has high in state cost).  For my third, the two types are comparable.

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I am seeing the expectations of what a university should be rise in the UK.  The university that I know best is trying to appeal to overseas (particularly American) students and it is improving its facilities.  These are not core facilities (lecture halls, labs, etc.) but taking on a new theatre (the university does not have drama or music degrees, so this is for extra-curricular use), doubling the size of the sports centre, demolishing and rebuilding the perfectly adequate halls of residence to provide more private rooms.

 

Right now, it's the overseas students footing the bill, but I can't see how the pressure on the government to raise tuition for domestic students will be resisted for long.

 

Laura, this is exactly what I was thinking about with regards to the dramatic tuition increases in the United States.

 

Sometimes I get the impression that many colleges are like the woman who is so focused on decorating her home and how that home appears to her neighbors, that she neglects to provide food, medical care, education, and nurturing for her children who are the heart of that home.

 

Actually, it's not just the universities. A couple of years ago, the teachers at our local high school were regularly making comments in their classrooms about needing markers for the white boards and how there was just no money. At the same, the school logo was overhauled, a custom paint job applied in a the front halls, and money was being begged in order to make the weight training facility "more like a private health club." That very expensive and fancy weight room serves a small percentage of the student population, yet the AP Euro class is PHOTOCOPYING chapters out of the textbook because the books are too frail to send out of the classroom.

 

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I am getting really scared!  DD is in 10th this year, going into 11th next year, so I am just starting to read some of the college threads... This is so complicated!  We are not going to qualify for any need based aid.  We do "okay", but not enough to pay the kind of numbers I'm seeing around. DD is amenable to going the 2:2 route, and going to a state college.  But one of the state colleges she likes only gives really good scholarships to freshmen, and if she does 2:2 she won't qualify for a lot of those.  

 

So when it comes time, do we apply to some of these state colleges "just to see what happens"?  She hasn't tested ACT /SAT yet, but if it correllates to school performance at all, I would guess she might be middle upper end.  Not "outstanding" but probably "above average".  Is that even worth trying to apply for?  Do just "above average" ever get scholarships when you are not need based?

 

I'm so confused...  :willy_nilly:

 

It's tough because indeed it's the type of thing that unfolds as you get there.

 

You can talk to recruiters until you lose your voice and can't stand it any more, and you still won't know exactly how you're kid is going to come out.  It isn't an exact science.

 

My oldest has top-notch scores and advanced work, but the merit aid we got at the 4-years still wasn't enough to go that way.  Every school is different though.

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Don't discount military service (not just academies and ROTC) as a means of paying for college. My parents had too much money for me to qualify for financial aid out of high school, but not enough money saved to pay for where I was admitted (even with the largest merit aid award at USC). I joined the Army when I was 17, leaving for boot camp two days after high school graduation, and spent two years on active duty (and another 4 in the reserves while in college). And I left active duty, at age 19, as a freshly-minted independent student for financial aid purposes. With my DD-214 in hand, I suddenly had need-based aid coming out the wazoo. If you find yourself in the donut hole, and your kids are at all willing, consider this as an option.

 

Other things to consider:

 

-- When I began college, after military service, an 8 o'clock class was no longer an issue. At all. :) The discipline that the military instilled in me was brought to bear on my studies. 

-- Your kid will be joining the largest alumni organization in the nation. Veteran status provided me with a leg up in interviews for jobs, internships, graduate school, and scholarships, and a commonality of experience that helped me in working (as a young woman) with CEOs, CFOs, General Counsel, etc. (most of whom were male and also vets).

-- The military is not just technical/STEM-type jobs. I learned 4 years of college-level Russian, care of the Army, and had many friends in the intelligence/special operations community who went on to employment with the CIA, NSA, FBI, think tanks, etc.

-- Your child may qualify for military college payment programs, and a VA home loan, as well as financial aid. 

 

 

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So when it comes time, do we apply to some of these state colleges "just to see what happens"?

 

 

First, figure out your EFC - using FAFSA4Caster or another estimator

 

https://fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/f4cForm?execution=e1s1

 

Second, each of the state colleges you think may be options will have "Net Price Calculators". Run those as well.

Both of these numbers will give you a decent understanding of "what will probably happen."

 

If you have any other schools where your DD could commute, run their net price calculators, too, even if they are private schools with high price tags. It will give you an idea of how much they might discount their price.

 

If you are looking at the 2+2 option, really investigate your community college system and what the transfer agreements are and how many students successfully transfer as well.

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Please convey to your kids that being turned down to STEM is not an indication that they aren't qualified candidates for either summer seminar or USNA. STEM and NASS have purposes that overlap but are not 100% aligned with finding the most qualified students for USNA. There are also goals of encouraging applications from districts that don't typically have strong applicants, encouraging students to continue in STEM studies and encouraging students from underrepresented categories to consider the Navy and USNA. For both camps there is also a tendency to favor students who don't live near a fleet concentration or near enough to USNA come to other events.

 

The STEM camp is a great deal. It is far less expensive than other similar programs. But that means that many students apply. I think the last numbers I saw had several thousand students applying for a few hundred spots. That is really competitive. There are any number of reasons why a student might not be selected. And it's possible that not one of those reasons are because USNA thinks that they wouldn't be a good midshipman.

 

We've had our own turn down letters from USNA. I know what it's like to be excited about the prospect and then get a form letter saying no. It is also hard to have to wait so long to find out what the status is. The only thing I can say is not to despair.

I know exactly what you're saying, and you are right. I believe the kids' letters referenced 5,000 applicants. But all he hears right now is "not good enough." 6 months ago, he heard that LOUDLY and often from an awful scout master as a 14yo boy who was asked to be SPL. I am so grateful that SM is GONE. That was a nightmare. He isn't ready to really hear that it's not the same. He has heard the message, but doubts the veracity. Over the next year, he'll bury himself in his Eagle project, become the Chief something in the OA, run for Team Captain on the swim Team, do another stint as SPL, and during all of that, I think his confidence will rise drastically, and finally put that doubt to rest. Then, that message will truly be received, and he will be ready. Ponygirl doesn't doubt herself. She just says USNA isn't for her (of course, then she asks if she can do x and y, because a certain female midshipman did that and got into USNA from here.)

 

I'm actually less worried about PonyGirl. She is the kind of student MIT would give their eye teeth for (she has no interest in MIT at the moment). But LEGOManiac...even with the fact that he can rock the math and science, and is a very talented communicator, it's still going to be tough.

 

We have a solid list of programs. And we're prioritizing based upon program, cost, and experience last. Programs have to go first, because dual programs are a small niche, and even if he can't double major a solid engineering BS, and probably English minor at the minimum has to be in the mix. Cost second, because a solid program still needs to be affordable. Experience last...because #1 and #2 are crucial, while experience would be nice. I'm hoping he can have it all, but we talk a lot about the reality.

 

I don't see how the system can survive. Just like I don't thin an economy built on consumer purchases can survive. The question is when it falls apart, what will we have left?

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I am getting really scared!  DD is in 10th this year, going into 11th next year, so I am just starting to read some of the college threads... This is so complicated!  â€¦ I'm so confused...  :willy_nilly:

 

I know! I'm so sorry to have to confirm that it is confusing and a *ton* of work to have to research everything.  :grouphug:  The big thing is that you are starting to look into this at just the right time. You have plenty of time to research and make decisions. It will be okay!  :grouphug:  Just keep posting your questions as you uncover something new that you don't get. Someone on this board will have been through it before you and will be able to help! :) Just take a breath, and take it one step at a time. :)

 

 

… So when it comes time, do we apply to some of these state colleges "just to see what happens"?

 

 

Yes, do go ahead and apply. You won't know what the school would offer as far as merit aid unless you do. You do not have to make a final decision until into the spring of the senior year, and by that time you'll have all of your facts and figures compared to know the financial picture, at least.

 

To be prepared for when the financial aid packages come in, your family can be working through your finances right now to determine what you can budget for college and how much debt you're willing for DD to take on, so when the package is offered you'll know whether it is in your range or not.

 

Start comparing total costs for the colleges, too:

- tuition

- fees (class fees, student activity fee, parking fee, health insurance fee…)

- room & board (if student will live not at home)

Look at the per semester costs, and then multiply the differences out over the 4 years of getting a degree; does that overall difference push you one direction or another?

 

I'm afraid this next one requires some intensive website searching and talking with the financial aid advisors at each school, but compare the kinds and amounts of merit aid each school awards:

- What kinds of scholarships does each school offer?

- How many?

- What kinds of restrictions are on the scholarships?

- Do the requirements increase as the student progresses each year, making it harder to hold onto the scholarship?

- What are the options for having a scholarship restored if the student drops down in GPA or requirements?

- It's a small thing, but does one school grant more $$ for book scholarships than another?

 

And see if you can find a list of the total amount of scholarships awarded by each school. For example, we have 3 state public universities in my state. The one in my town lists 65 total scholarships. One of the other two school lists 95 -- a third more scholarships to award! And when compared to student body size, it's easy to see which school gives you better odds  -- 42,000 at the school that offers 65 scholarships, vs. 26,000 at the school that offers 95 scholarships.

 

You can also be checking into the schools and find out if they allow "stacking" of scholarships or not. Most scholarships are "inside" money -- awarded by the school itself; but there are also "outside" scholarships, which are awarded by groups and organizations outside of the school. If your student earns some "outside" scholarship money, some schools allow you to "stack" that money on top of whatever merit aid they plan to give your student -- so, "outside" $$ PLUS "inside" $$, for a higher Total $$. :) However, some schools do not allow stacking, and they will deduct the amount of the "outside" awards from the total amount of merit aid that they would have awarded, so the student ends up with the same total amount that the school alone would have awarded. So: Total $$ MINUS "outside" $$ = "inside" $$ award. :(

 

Also check the statistics for the schools and see if a middle-upper-end ACT/SAT score places her in the top 10% of incoming freshmen at one school over another -- the higher the percent of her placement compared to other students, the more merit money is likely.

 

 

… We are not going to qualify for any need based aid.  We do "okay", but not enough to pay the kind of numbers I'm seeing around. DD is amenable to going the 2:2 route, and going to a state college.  But one of the state colleges she likes only gives really good scholarships to freshmen, and if she does 2:2 she won't qualify for a lot of those.  

 

… She hasn't tested ACT /SAT yet, but if it correllates to school performance at all, I would guess she might be middle upper end.  Not "outstanding" but probably "above average".  Is that even worth trying to apply for?  Do just "above average" ever get scholarships when you are not need based?

 

ALWAYS apply! You can not be awarded if you don't apply! And DO fill out the FAFSA even if you KNOW you don't qualify for need-based -- for many schools they have to have the FAFSA from you to be able to award ANY scholarship to your student. 8FillTheHeart tells the story of how one of her DSs missed out on a BIG scholarship because they didn't fill out the FAFSA, not realizing the school needed that hoop jumped in order to award him. It had nothing to do with need-based or EFC numbers. :(

 

Here are some ideas for "outside" scholarships for "average" students or homeschool students:

FinAid website: "Scholarships for Average Students"

Go College: "Scholarships for Average Students"

Scholarships.Com: "Weird Scholarships"

College Scholarships: "Homeschool Student College Scholarships"

Homeschool Buyers Co-op: Educational Contests and Scholarships"

Homeschool Scholarships: list by state

 

See this past thread for ideas in searching out "outside" scholarships -- some require doing an essay or project (which leaves some of these scholarships without anyone willing to put in the time to apply and do the work!!) -- and NOT all are tied to high test scores:

"Preparing for college, what scholarships/grants to apply for?"

 

Another thing you can do now is check on those state colleges to see which CLEP tests or dual enrollment classes from the local community college (CC) are accepted towards the degree program. Some colleges will actually accept enough CLEP or transfer credits from a CC that your DD could knock a year off of college -- AND still be accepted as a freshman, as long as the CLEP and the dual enrollment were done before high school graduation.

 

 

Now, if you find that going the CC route for 2 years and then transferring saves you the most money, then shoot for scholarships at the CC. Both of my DSs -- both very white, male, average -- got scholarships. One kept up a high GPA at the school; the other was actually the rare male in a mostly female dominated field (Interpretation for the Deaf).

 

Do what you can do about shooting for the limited amount of transfer scholarships out there. A good GPA makes your student eligible for Phi Theta Kappa, the 2-year college national honor society. They award transfer scholarships. Sometimes the CC itself has transfer scholarships. Look for both "inside" and "outside" transfer scholarships.

 

Also see if the 4-year state college has an online classes/degree option that is cheaper than being on campus. Or, if your student would normally have to go and live on campus in another city, is there an online option that cuts out the dorm/food cost, saving you $10,000/year...

 

 

And finally, there are even more alternatives for funding college in this past thread: "s/o: Cautionary tale/high college costs -- a brainstorm $$ idea thread" This thread has ideas like:

- attend a tuition-free college

- attend out of state at in-state prices through a college exchange program

- tuition reimbursement program (business pays for some/all of college, and in exchange you work for them upon graduation)

- at home/online college degree through a careful selection of CLEP and DANTE tests and online classes (College Plus, or other, or even DIY)

 

BEST of luck as you pull on your college counselor/administrator hat and start your research work! Here's my hat ---->   :hat:  although often I felt like this ---->  :biggrinjester: Warmest regards, Lori D.

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Reading about the "woe is me" essay reminded me of the time when my brother started college, but could not get a scholarship because my old school father refused to fill out the financial papers; indeed (almost) his exact words were "I'm not signing any %%$$!!  pauper's oath!"  (He was earning about 1/10 the median income of a family at the target private school.)

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It's tough because indeed it's the type of thing that unfolds as you get there.

 

You can talk to recruiters until you lose your voice and can't stand it any more, and you still won't know exactly how you're kid is going to come out.  It isn't an exact science.

 

My oldest has top-notch scores and advanced work, but the merit aid we got at the 4-years still wasn't enough to go that way.  Every school is different though.

 

I think it's also very tough to made determinations about need aid without considering the specific numbers of a specific family relative the the specific numbers of the cohort of students attending a school with a specific endowment or desire to move up in rankings.

 

A mid level regional school that is trying to move up rankings may give generously to high scoring students.  

A family that feels comfortable may in fact qualify for need at a school with a large endowment.

A family that can't pay for college out of income and savings might not qualify for need at a school that needs to bring in more cash.

A student with high scores may not stand out at a school where everyone is high scoring.  (The middle 50% SAT math score at one school my son is interested in is 750-800.  That means the upper 25% of the entering freshmen had 800 in math.  The 25-75% had 750 or above.  Not much room for merit aid there unless you've done something on a national or international level.)

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It may not be a super top name school, but one school that impressed us on a visit and gives really good merit aid awards for lower than usual SAT/ACT scores (1290/29) (because they are a grad school expanding into undergrad and trying to build up) is Nova Southeastern in Ft Lauderdale, FL.

 

https://www.nova.edu/webforms/scholarships/schlr-srch-params.cgi?keyword=NSU%20President#search-results#search-results  (Click on scholarships for more info)

 

Just putting that out there if anyone is interested.  ALL classes were small and profs were truly interested in their students.  Dorms were some of the best we've seen.  The undergrad was designed by their grad/prof schools based upon what they wanted to see in incoming students...

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Don't discount military service (not just academies and ROTC) as a means of paying for college. My parents had too much money for me to qualify for financial aid out of high school, but not enough money saved to pay for where I was admitted (even with the largest merit aid award at USC). I joined the Army when I was 17, leaving for boot camp two days after high school graduation, and spent two years on active duty (and another 4 in the reserves while in college). And I left active duty, at age 19, as a freshly-minted independent student for financial aid purposes. With my DD-214 in hand, I suddenly had need-based aid coming out the wazoo. If you find yourself in the donut hole, and your kids are at all willing, consider this as an option.

 

Other things to consider:

 

-- When I began college, after military service, an 8 o'clock class was no longer an issue. At all. :) The discipline that the military instilled in me was brought to bear on my studies. 

-- Your kid will be joining the largest alumni organization in the nation. Veteran status provided me with a leg up in interviews for jobs, internships, graduate school, and scholarships, and a commonality of experience that helped me in working (as a young woman) with CEOs, CFOs, General Counsel, etc. (most of whom were male and also vets).

-- The military is not just technical/STEM-type jobs. I learned 4 years of college-level Russian, care of the Army, and had many friends in the intelligence/special operations community who went on to employment with the CIA, NSA, FBI, think tanks, etc.

-- Your child may qualify for military college payment programs, and a VA home loan, as well as financial aid. 

 

I agree with all of the above.  However, I would also add

 

The military is not interested in problem children.  This is a period of draw downs in personnel.  Serious legal problems, drugs, drunk driving, etc may make enlistment problematic if not impossible.

 

This is not the Cold War, when it might be possible to spend several years doing exercises or garrison duty.  Expect to deploy often and for long periods.  (6 month Navy deployments were typical when I was commissioned.  Now 9-12 month deployments are common, with a month on either end for workups and post op as well as a solid year of hard work doing training and inspections before hand and intense maintenance periods afterward.)  

 

The military is not a 9-5 M-F job.  Those 8am classes feel easy because you've been in the habit of being at work at 6am.  

 

The military can be a fantastic option.  It certainly was for me.  And our family still finds it rewarding.  But it has its own challenges and costs.

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The University of Georgia in Athens is where I taught for 30 years and in - state tuition there is now about $10,000/year.  When we lived in Cambridge MA, for 2 years, my wife took some of her pre med courses at the Harvard extension school evening classes, where one semester classes now cost $1250 each,  or also about $10,000 for 8 semester courses. 18 hours of non resident tuition at UW in Seattle is also less than $12,000.  They were a lot less 35 years ago, but these prices still sound pretty reasonable to me.  This is about half the tuition at one of the cheapest private elementary schools in Atlanta.  Of course I spent my whole life devoting most of my income to schools, (honorary Lakota Sioux name: "pays tuition").

 

A few years ago Georgia also had a lottery funded full tuition scholarship program, the "Hope" scholarship that benefited over 97% of students at the top 3 state schools.  It has since reduced benefits since lottery money declined, but provided over $4,000 in tuition for recipients in 2014-2015.

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Having two kids at LACs (one of those Christian) and one at a private research U I can say there are HUGE differences between them.

 

The LACs focus on teaching and have some (limited) research going on, so a student should be certain they are interested in exactly what that research is, then hope they can participate. Some slots are open to anyone interested. Others aren't. Classes are small. Tests revolve a bit on what was taught in class.

 

The research U assumes students coming in have a higher level of knowledge already. If not, the student needs to catch up fairly quickly while still learning new things. There have been times when what's been taught in class is "too new for any textbook," esp if dealing with what the prof (or dept) is researching. Those classes are often larger, but they have small recitations. It's been easy for my kiddo to get to know all of his professors, but he has to make the effort to do so (and he does). What is being researched is at a far higher/deeper level (for the most part) and there are plentiful options for students to get involved. They may not get their first choice right away due to competition, but if they prove themselves in someone's lab, they get higher dibs as others graduate and move on.

 

Tests have a dual purpose. Part of it (maybe earning one up to a B) is knowledge, but that knowledge is often deeper than the same course at my LAC kiddos colleges. The other part is out of the box thinking. On several tests middle son has said there have been questions that have no answers as they are still theoretical or in current research, but the prof wants to know how a student thinks about them and they get credit if their thought process has merit. Those questions were not discussed in class. One needs to know concepts and have a researcher's mind.

 

It is not at all difficult to see the differences between the two places (well, not counting English or History majors as I've no idea how those are handled). A student ought to visit each type of school to see which type feels like it fits them. Some kids thrive on research and an LAC would be limiting. Other kids have no interest in research and would be overwhelmed at a research school. My three guys all chose appropriately for them.

 

For two of my three boys, going to a private school has been less costly than attending our in state schools (PA has high in state cost). For my third, the two types are comparable.

While I don't disagree that there are differences between LACs and research universities, I don't think you are talking about the types of LACS known for sending their STEM grads to top grad and professional programs and having their students regularly earn national awards. I was talking about these schools as one possible alternative to those who desire but can't afford an elite private research university, but still want academic challenge and rigor. Some, but not all LACs in this category do offer generous merit aid to top students which may make them financially feasible. Obviously, if an elite private research university is the best fit and you can afford it, it makes sense to attend.

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I am getting really scared!  DD is in 10th this year, going into 11th next year, so I am just starting to read some of the college threads... This is so complicated!  We are not going to qualify for any need based aid.  We do "okay", but not enough to pay the kind of numbers I'm seeing around. DD is amenable to going the 2:2 route, and going to a state college.  But one of the state colleges she likes only gives really good scholarships to freshmen, and if she does 2:2 she won't qualify for a lot of those.  

 

So when it comes time, do we apply to some of these state colleges "just to see what happens"?  She hasn't tested ACT /SAT yet, but if it correllates to school performance at all, I would guess she might be middle upper end.  Not "outstanding" but probably "above average".  Is that even worth trying to apply for?  Do just "above average" ever get scholarships when you are not need based?

 

I'm so confused...  :willy_nilly:

 

It is not perfectly correlated to school performance, particularly with bright but distracted students, lazy students, and on the other end, students with anxiety. Colleges know this which is why both grades and test scores count.

 

She should apply to the state college she wants to go to. She should also work all summer. See if you can make it. Also, ask them if they can "reverse transfer" the credits to the CC to get an AA and go to another school, should she need to leave for financial reasons to finish her general education requirements.

 

If she doesn't want to go military, she could consider going into another corps: Americorps, Peace Corps, etc. In some cases, if you promise service, they will pay part of your tuition in return. And then if you don't go, that turns into an unsubsidized loan. Obviously I'd recommend going.

 

It is very frustrating to think of people getting stuff for free but the reality is, in spite of the brags from people who don't work that they got a free ride, honestly I think most people working in higher ed don't see that. I just don't. Living expenses put most poor people over the edge and we see people leave our college all the time because they can't afford it, even with full tuition paid, because they are working 60 hours to survive.

 

Those taking out loans will face the piper soon enough, and those really getting scholarships, well... sorry, there are not many of them, and it does seem that those who don't really work do lose the scholarships.

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No, higher income students who are full pay or lower income who received nonmerit money, who had hand held by tutor throughout high school, can barely pass CC calc, vs middle class math brains who wish to go into engineering rather than LAC math or science. Basically a nonhonors caliber student vs one who is ..but the guy who has the money gets the opportunity at the challenging coursework, while the middle class guy gets another round of easy classes at the CC.

While I don't disagree that middle class students often have fewer options due to financial restrictions, I don't think your description actually describes who is attending elite engineering programs. Non-honors wealthy and poor students are not being accepted into and succeeding at elite STEM program. The rigor and course load at these schools makes it a virtual impossibility.

 

And if the middle class math brain doesn't want a LAC and can't afford th elite research university, there are other options. I have a good friend whose dad is an engineering professor at one of the top engineering programs in the midwest. All three of his sons wanted to be engineers. His main advice to them was to major in anything except engineering for undergrad. They all went to the cheapest and lowest ranked of their state universities. All now have grad degrees in engineering from excellent research universities.

 

And depending on the community college, they are not necessarily a bad option. A local homeschooler started at CC, transferred to the local state U, and graduated with a BS at 18 while living at home. She was accepted to every engineering grad program to which she applied.

 

And my grad school advisor, a true mathematical genius, was "discovered" at the local CC and encouraged by his profs to transfer to the local state U where he earned his bachelor's and PhD. He never lived away from home until he got married in grad school. He is now one of the top researchers in the world in his field.

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 I have a good friend whose dad is an engineering professor at one of the top engineering programs in the midwest. All three of his sons wanted to be engineers. His main advice to them was to major in anything except engineering for undergrad. They all went to the cheapest and lowest ranked of their state universities. All now have grad degrees in engineering from excellent research universities.

 

 

I have agreed with most the posts you have made in this thread, but I strongly disagree with this advice.  Engineering is a field where undergrad programs are accredited by ABET.  Attending an ABET program means that employers know that the student has met expected standards for their respective engineering field.  

 

You cannot jump into most engineering programs as a grad student.  The undergrad engineering classes are core classes.  Additionally, most industry type jobs do not require a grad level degree. 

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 Obviously, if an elite private research university is the best fit and you can afford it, it makes sense to attend.

 

The reasonably elite (Top 30 nationally) private research U my middle son picked out was carefully selected because it gives both merit aid and is one of the best for need based aid (based upon the Profile).  It was the least costly of all the schools he was accepted at including Pitt (one of our state related schools).  

 

The LAC he applied to was the most costly -> 30+K per year more costly.  It's a good LAC, but certainly not a top one.  He was among the top few percent according to entrance stats.  He received merit aid there, but nowhere near what he received from his other schools.

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I have agreed with most the posts you have made in this thread, but I strongly disagree with this advice.  Engineering is a field where undergrad programs are accredited by ABET.  Attending an ABET program means that employers know that the student has met expected standards for their respective engineering field.  

 

You cannot jump into most engineering programs as a grad student.  The undergrad engineering classes are core classes.  Additionally, most industry type jobs do not require a grad level degree. 

 

:iagree:  My hubby is a working Civil Engineer who is probably the top of the top locally and has done projects in Africa, Europe, Oceania, and other places in North America (Canada & other states besides ours).  He only has an undergrad degree from Va Tech.  There was never a need for a masters or anything higher.  (He does have his PE, of course, but didn't need a higher degree to get it.)  It'd have wasted time and money for him to do an undergrad first with plans on a "better" U later - esp undergrad not related to engineering.

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I have agreed with most the posts you have made in this thread, but I strongly disagree with this advice. Engineering is a field where undergrad programs are accredited by ABET. Attending an ABET program means that employers know that the student has met expected standards for their respective engineering field.

 

You cannot jump into most engineering programs as a grad student. The undergrad engineering classes are core classes. Additionally, most industry type jobs do not require a grad level degree.

Engineering is not my area, so I'm just going on what he said. I believe all three majored in physics and one of them added an art major. I think they all went into undergrad planning on grad school. I believe what you say about it not being a viable option for many students, especially those that don't want to go to grad school.

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The reasonably elite (Top 30 nationally) private research U my middle son picked out was carefully selected because it gives both merit aid and is one of the best for need based aid (based upon the Profile). It was the least costly of all the schools he was accepted at including Pitt (one of our state related schools).

 

The LAC he applied to was the most costly -> 30+K per year more costly. It's a good LAC, but certainly not a top one. He was among the top few percent according to entrance stats. He received merit aid there, but nowhere near what he received from his other schools.

This is exactly the type of careful research and applying I was advocating for the student who wants MIT but can't attend because they don't give merit aid and the family doesn't get enough financial aid. There are a variety of other options available that will provide an academically challenging and rewarding undergraduate experience and help them achieve their long term goals. And many will be more affordable for a student who has the stats to get into MIT. But the student has to be open to them and it does take planning and research.

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This is exactly the type of careful research and applying I was advocating for the student who wants MIT but can't attend because they don't give merit aid and the family doesn't get enough financial aid. There are a variety of other options available that will provide an academically challenging and rewarding undergraduate experience and help them achieve their long term goals. And many will be more affordable for a student who has the stats to get into MIT. But the student has to be open to them and it does take planning and research.

 

This guy had the stats to be competitive anywhere (which is not the same as getting in anywhere as lottery schools are called that for a reason).

 

When finances are an issue, one definitely needs to put more hours into researching good potential schools.

 

There are places where my guy could have gone for free with his stats.  One of his buddies with lower stats chose such a school.  We decided it was worth it for us to pay some (our EFC - this ends up being roughly 1/3rd to 1/2 of our monthly income for him AND his brother - not each) and my guy has basic student loans to be able to attend his school.  His buddy wishes he had chosen differently due to the differences in the schools (more research and class options where my guy is), but he will graduate debt free and his parents paid nothing.

 

Both young lads will succeed with their goals (entrance to med school).  I've no doubt about that at this point since both are finished with their junior years now.

 

Everyone has to choose what is important to them regarding finances and which school to attend.  I have absolutely no regrets.  The research U has given my guy both fantastic opportunities (research and otherwise) and a terrific college experience.  We have no parental debt.  We have less income at our disposal and are not contributing at all to our retirement during the college years, but that's a choice we're willing to make.

 

There's no way we'd have paid for him to go to the LAC for 30+K more per year.  Paying our EFC?  That's a real stretch on the budget, but I'm willing (and able) to do that.

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Engineering is not my area, so I'm just going on what he said. I believe all three majored in physics and one of them added an art major. I think they all went into undergrad planning on grad school.

 

THAT is very different from the "anything" in your previous post

 

His main advice to them was to major in anything except engineering for undergrad

 

Of course as a physics major, switching to engineering grad school is not such a big deal, especially in certain engineering disciplines. Physics graduates do it all the time. But "anything" would not work. You don't go to engineering grad school with an English or history degree.

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While I don't disagree that middle class students often have fewer options due to financial restrictions, I don't think your description actually describes who is attending elite engineering programs. Non-honors wealthy and poor students are not being accepted into and succeeding at elite STEM program. The rigor and course load at these schools makes it a virtual impossibility.

 

Maybe for your area. In my area, the elimination of the honors/AP/IB courses and the $$ability to prep for the SAT means that students who would never be the top students academically if such opportunities existed are now looking as good on paper as the middle class brainiacs. They can and do get into tech programs at regional Ivy schools....they dont always grad in eng, but they do get in. The middle class brainiacs go to state u after cc.

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